Redmond’s ‘Plant Lady:’ Kluver manages city’s many parks and trails

Overseeing 23 developed parks consisting of more than 1,000 acres and 17 miles of developed trails is not an easy job. Throw in eight undeveloped parks covering almost 300 acres and another nine underdeveloped trails and the task is more than a little daunting. For Teresa Kluver, however, it's just another day at the office as parks operations supervisor for the City of Redmond's Parks & Recreation department.

City of Redmond park operations supervisor Teresa Kluver speaks at the Redmond Senior Center's First Friday Coffee Chat. Kluver has always loved plants and has a background in horticulture and urban forestry. She has been with the Parks & Recreation department for 19 years.

City of Redmond park operations supervisor Teresa Kluver speaks at the Redmond Senior Center's First Friday Coffee Chat. Kluver has always loved plants and has a background in horticulture and urban forestry. She has been with the Parks & Recreation department for 19 years.

Overseeing 23 developed parks consisting of more than 1,000 acres and 17 miles of developed trails is not an easy job. Throw in eight undeveloped parks covering almost 300 acres and another nine undeveloped trails and the task is more than a little daunting.

For Teresa Kluver, however, it’s just another day at the office as parks operations supervisor for the City of Redmond’s Parks & Recreation department.

“It’s a big job,” she said. “We’re always busy.”

The Oregon native came to the City of Redmond 19 years ago after moving up north for an internship with the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in 1986. She had graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in horticulture and along with her UW internship, spent time working in the private industry. At the end of 1991, she came to Redmond as a lead maintenance worker for the parks and recreation department, eventually working her way up to her current position in 1999.

Since she began, Kluver said the department has grown a lot. She oversees a full-time staff of 25, directly supervising 12. The teams and projects she manages include caring for and maintaining the city’s parks as well as the city’s flower program, which consists of the foliage planted along the sides of a number of Redmond’s roads.

Of the latter, Kluver said the key is selecting eye-catching plants that pop.

“We’re looking for plants that look good at 35 miles per hour,” she said.

Kluver shared the details of her job along with some gardening tips with the community on Feb. 4 at this month’s First Friday Coffee Chat at the Redmond Senior Center. The chats, which began fall 2009, give the public the opportunity to learn more about different aspects of the city such as the mayor’s office, police department and chaplains.

Park operations assistant manager Dave Tuchek has been with the department for 22 years and having been there since Kluver’s first day, he knows what it is like to work with her.

“She’s great. She’s outstanding, just a really hard worker,” he said. “She was really good then…and she’s still really good.”

Tuchek said Kluver’s knowledge of horticulture contributes to her success.

Eric O’Neil, park contract administrator for the department, has been with the department for 14 years and agrees with Tuchek in that Kluver is very knowledgeable about the field, adding that she once wrote a regular column for the city and was referred to as the “Plant Lady.”

O’Neil began as a seasonal aid, working under Kluver’s leadership.

“She was a great mentor,” he said. “She was very helpful for allowing for my personal and professional growth.”

O’Neil has worked his way up to be a fellow supervisor with Kluver and said as a coworker, she is incredibly organized and sets an example for their colleagues to follow. He added that she is very easy to get along with and work with, but also has no problem telling it like it is if something is not going as it should.

“She’s not going to sugarcoat it,” he said.

As part of Redmond’s parks and recreation department, Kluver, who also has a master’s degree in urban forestry from UW, is part of the Green Redmond Partnership with Cascade Land Conservancy. The partnership works to build a sustainable network of healthy urban green space for the long term.

“It’s not a two-year program. It’s a 20-year program,” she said.

Kluver said a lot of the work for the program has been planting native plants and removing invasive species, adding that they have been successful so far, thanks to volunteers. For more information, visit www.greenredmond.org.

Kluver helped with the landscape design for Anderson Park and still goes out into the field, but it’s mostly to do site inspection to identify future works projects rather than physical work. As supervisor, she said a lot of her job is managerial.

Kluver said she does a lot of work around her yard at home.

“I get my fix,” she said.


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